Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Traveling for Research and Inspiration

As a person who’s had a few publication credits but has not published a novel (yet!), I haven't done any traveling for school presentations. However, like others on this blog I have certainly traveled to do research for my work, whether it be hiking in the alpine backcountry of Rainier National Park in search of pikas and marmots to star in a middle grade novel, or visiting Fairbanks to reconnect with the town where I spent my formative years.

I don’t have much advice regarding trips of this nature, other than to say remember to check your supplies a few times before you depart! Once, on a trip to Rainier, I drove 3 hours to the park, hiked two miles (uphill!) off the road, came upon a family of marmots playing just a few yards off the trail – and then realized that amongst the various notebooks, snacks, and water bottles in my backpack I had forgotten to bring my camera!! Although I stayed for a few hours and had fun watching the pudgy little critters going about their lives, I sure would have liked to take some pictures. Luckily, I made several trips researching this particular project and so I had other opportunities to photo-document my discoveries. (A picture from one of these later trips accompanies this post. If you look on the boulder near the pine tree in the lower right corner, you might be able to see a marmot lounging in the sun, admiring the view. Though I took most pictures at closer range, I couldn’t help but take this long-view picture, thinking, “That marmot sure has a nice view from her front stoop!”)

I have traveled to several writing conferences as well. When I think back on these experiences, no real advice comes to mind except to remind everyone never to book a hotel room over the internet without talking directly to the hotel in question. I learned this lesson the hard way a few years ago when I visited Portland, Oregon, to attend a book festival. I arrived at my hotel, checked in, and went to my room—only to find that I had been assigned a smoking unit with two double beds instead of the non-smoking room with king bed I had reserved. The gal at the desk, though sympathetic to my predicament, could not accommodate a room change because there were no vacancies. When I told her I had made a reservation weeks in advance, she asked if I had spoken directly to the hotel. I had not, and that’s when she told me that many online reservation sites do not actually guarantee you will receive the room you reserve. Most if not all of you probably already know this, but I add my little tale as a warning for those who may not!


Christy said...

Stunning photo, Mark! Can't wait to see where your research takes you in your writing.

Good tip about booking. I've had similar disappointments with online booking.

Lauren said...

That marmot sure does have a gorgeous view Mark! What a beautiful place to hike and sit, even without a camera. (the first time!) Thanks on the advise for the booking--

Edie Hemingway said...

Good advice, Mark! And I'd love to read your story, starring marmots and pikas!

Diane Adams said...

The photo is beautiful, and I'm wondering what that marmot had to pay for her apartment with a view.

David LaRochelle said...

Gorgeous photo...and I did NOT know that piece of advice about online booking. Thank you for the warning!